The Bible 101 - Part 7
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
From 12 Tribes to frogs and flies and the lamb without blemish...
Oh hey, short on time? No worries! I'd love to join you on your commute or daily walk/run, or shoot, even while you take care of that to-do list. We can't let these things get in the way of this friendship. It's just starting to get good! Click below to listen to the blogcast.
Before we jump in, here's a quick recap of what we've been learning -
Moses wrote The Torah, which comprise the first five books of The Bible.
The Old Testament is a great, big lighthouse which draws us to our safe harbor, Jesus, who we get to meet in The New Testament.
God made a covenant with Abraham that he will be the father of nations. Abraham's two sons have a direct relationship to today's news headlines. Ishmael is the father of Islam (born to Abraham by Hagar) and Isaac (born to Abraham by Sarah) is the promised child and, therefore, is the son from whom Jesus comes to us.
Isaac's second son, Jacob, gets his father's blessing and has 12 sons which turn out to be a big deal.
And on that note, let's keep going!
So what's the big deal about these 12 sons?
(I'm so glad you asked. I feel like I've been talking so much. Writing can sometimes feel that way.)
Anyway, back to your question... These 12 sons become the12 tribes of Israel.
Another great question! Remember Israel is not a country yet at this time in history. It's called the 12 tribes of Israel because they are the 12 sons of a man named Israel. Jacob, the one who was able to get the blessing in exchange for a bowl of soup, later in life wrestled with God and refused to let go until God blessed him. During this, God changed his name to Israel. (Names are very significant in The Bible.)
These 12 tribes will soon be reflected in plots of land, but today let's start by talking about the first son of Israel by Rachel.
Joseph was the firstborn of Israel by Rachel, the wife whom he loved. (Not to be confused with her older sister Leah. Reread last week's post for more context on this love triangle.)
Having a "favorite" child causes tension today, and guess what? It did back then, too.
Joseph knew he was the favorite, the golden child if you will, and so did all of his eleven brothers. This was no secret. Joseph has a dream that his brothers will one day bow down to him, and guess what? He tells them!
And as we can predict, they don't take it well. At all.
They decide to get rid of him. They know how much their father loves Joe, so they make it seem like he was eaten by a wild animal. Jealousy makes us do ridiculous things, doesn't it? What's worse - being eaten by a wild animal or being sold into slavery to the Ishmaelites? Well, neither are good but the slavery part...that's what really happened. (Remember the great divide with the sons of Hagar and Sarah? Hagar's son is Ishmael. Ah yes.)
A lot of things continue to go not just wrong but very, very badly for Joe starting with being taken to Egypt to then be sold into slavery. Wrongful accusations of rape and prison and more terrible things happen. Yet, somehow (but that's not really true, we know it's not "somehow," it's only because of God), Joe ends up second-in-command. He's not VP of some podunk town. He's second-in-command in the powerful land of Egypt!
That's BIG time!
And we know, God never promotes for our selfish gain. It's always, always, always for His glory. With great blessing comes great responsibility. We're going to see this over and over again throughout Scripture.
Joe interprets Pharaoh's dream about the famine in Egypt that will last for seven years, and we see a reunion between him and his brothers. The funny thing about this reunion is his brothers don't know it's a reunion because they don't recognize him. They thought he was a slave somewhere; they never expected baby bro Joe would be a powerful leader in Egypt!
Joe asks them to bring his brother, Ben. (Remember Ben was the other son of Rachel.) The brothers go back to get Ben and this reunion is incredible. Genesis 45. Read it and weep. Literally. Joseph weeps when he sees his brother. It's touching and moving and all the feelz.
We keep reading and see Israel and Joseph are reunited and Pharaoh blesses Israel with the best of the land and plenty of food to provide through the famine.
I never grow tired of reading Joseph's story. It's one of God's faithfulness through immense difficulty and a reminder of the power of forgiveness. He tells his brothers that although they meant to harm him by selling him into slavery, God meant it for good and used these events to provide for His people through the famine by raising Joseph up to second-in-command in Egypt.
Now, the Israelites, provided for during the famine thanks to Joseph's position, are growing in number. Hugs, the special kind, are involved and families are growing. And guess what?
Pharaoh doesn't like this. He fears they will become too powerful with greater population and he orders the Israelites to be treated as slaves. Every plan needs a back-up plan, even for Pharaoh, and he orders all baby boys born to the Israelites to be killed.
Genocide. It's horrific.
Jesus! Yes, everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus!
In the same way God was faithful to His people through the events of Joseph's life, we see this again with another life. This time, it's the life of Moses.
His mother leaves him in a reed basket in the Nile River. Pharaoh's daughter finds him and cares for him as her own. An Israelite baby boy being raised in Pharaoh's family during a Pharaoh-ordered genocide - only God could arrange that!
When he becomes older, Moses witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man. (Israelites are known as Hebrew and later as Jews). This infuriates Moses and he murders the Egyptian and buries him.
Moses flees and God speaks to him through a burning bush that He has a land for His people. He tells Moses that he is to boldly tell Pharaoh to let God's people go. (Yes, all of us who grew up in youth group can start singing, "Pharaoh, Pharaoh! Ohhhh baby, let My people go! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahhhh")
Yet, here's the kicker... God also tells Moses Pharaoh will refuse.
Hold up one second.
God told Moses to do something even though He knows Pharaoh will not listen?
Yep. "Go do this and it will not go as you want." Time and again, we see obedience doesn't always make sense.
And then, come the ten plagues - blood, frogs, gnats, flies, loss of livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. Understanding Egyptians worshipped nature and even had a frog-headed god for fertility helps us see God is very intentional and purposeful in His actions. God used these plagues to remind the Egyptians that He was the one true God.
The Lamb Without Blemish
Remember that lighthouse we've been talking about? Well, it's showing up again.
Before the last plague, God commands His people to take a spotless, innocent lamb, kill it at twilight and place the blood on the doorposts of their home. This will be the sign that they believe in the one true God and the Angel of Death will pass over them.
And it was so.
And this beacon of light we see in Exodus through the Passover is who?
He is the spotless, innocent lamb. He is the lamb without blemish who took on our sins so we could know life.
Wow, just wow.
God's faithfulness towards His people leaves me speechless and teary. None of it is deserved. It's all because of the covenant He initiated with Abraham because He loves us so.
He loves us so.
Let that sink in.
And put on your walkin' shoes. We're going to need them next week. And maybe a compass if you have one!
May we find strength in the Word of God. May our joy for reading scripture grow as we intentionally choose to set aside time to spend reading it each day. May our peace overflow as the Word of God reads us and changes us from the inside out. Then, we will know rest this world can't give.
Remember how we said 5 minutes a day can change your day, your life and even your eternity? Well, here's what I'll be reading this week. I really hope you'll join me!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
*Commenting is reserved for site members. Already subscribed but not yet a member? No problem. Becoming a member is easy! Just click "Log In / Sign Up" in the actions at the top of this page. Then, you can quickly and easily add comments!